Tuesday 31 July 2012

Obit/Tribute - Kuchipudi Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam (Oct 15, 1929 - July 29, 2012)

Guru Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam dedicated his life to preserve, promote and propagate Kuchipudi in India and all over the world. A charismatic performer, a brilliant choreographer and an inspiring teacher, he has been largely responsible for the revival of Kuchipudi dance in post-independent India. Hence, the name Vempati Chinna Satyam has become synonymous with Kuchipudi, as one who put Kuchipudi dance on the world map. Along with Surya Rao, Andavilli Satyanarayana has authored a biography of Chinna Satyam.

Read the tribute in the site

Friday 27 July 2012

Article - The feminine tradition of Andhra Natyam - Vijay Shanker

Dr. Nataraj Ramakrishna had dedicated his life towards the promotion and propagation of Andhra Natyam but it is disheartening to note that this dance style has not received the recognition it truly deserves. The contribution of Andhras towards the enrichment of dance is remarkable. It would be no exaggeration to state that there is no musical or dance performance without a Telugu song.

Andhra Natyam belongs to Andhra Pradesh and it enjoys a supreme place in the history of Indian dance. Known as the feminine tradition, it is more than two thousand years old and is enriched and embellished with bhava (expressions), raga (musical melody) and tala (rhythm). A combination of these three aspects can be called Bharatam, therefore Andhra Natyam can be called the Bharatanatyam of the Andhras. Unfortunately, Andhra Natyam does not enjoy international recognition like Bharatanatyam.

Read the article in the site

Saturday 21 July 2012

Roses & Thorns - Who next? Or what next? Kalakshetra crisis: Blown out of proportion - V.P. Dhananjayan

‘Who is next’ is the question asked by everyone now.  The cry for and against is slowly dying since the human memory is short.  Tracing back the circumstances and traversing down memory lane on the issue of a true successor to Rukmini Devi ended up in the hurried appointment of Ms. Leela Samson six years ago.  She was quite reluctant to take the mettle then, since she had issues with the institution earlier and walked out of the campus never to return. 

Read the article in the site

Thursday 19 July 2012

Interview - A B Balakondala Rao: Change is inevitable - Bhavanvitha Venkatesh

Kuchipudi Guru A B Balakondala Rao is known to her students, disciples, well-wishers as Balakka. She is one of the prominent disciples of Kuchipudi maestro Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam and runs Kuchipudi Kalaa Kendram in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. She started her dance at a very young age of eight years and it was all her determination that her father left her at the dance school, to stay back, go to school from the academy and most importantly learn dance as it happens in the traditional Guru-Sishya parampara manner.  She became a key faculty at the academy. Ravi Sankar Vempati, her master’s son learnt from Balakka. She participated in the many dance programs, projects and tours along with her guru.

Thereafter, she continued her dance without a break and founded Kuchipudi Kalaa Kendram after her marriage. The institute is now a world-renowned Kuchipudi school and has been continuously producing best talent year after year including Vidya, Aditya Brahmam etc.

Recently in the month of May 2012, she was awarded Kala Ratna by Government of Andhra Pradesh and I met her to congratulate her besides asking her opinion and thoughts about the award itself and present day Kuchipudi.

Read the interview in the site

Poem - Omniscient Rasika - Ashley Garcia

The sun is slow to rise,
I wake to the sounds of
Everlasting music,
Instruments of various kinds,
Sounds of
Prayers, chants, and singing,
Flutes, mridangams, and veenas,  
Nattuvangam, ankle bells, and stamping of feet,
The stretching of bodies,
I stretch alongside you daily,
Often times I stand back and watch you,
Dance, sing, and play an instrument or two
Dance and music
Entrap me with such ecstasy,
You are the very core
Of my happiness.
Time fades as the wind blows,
The sun is slow to set,
Alas, I am here watching as always,
Overlooking with such anticipation and fascination.
I fall asleep to the distant sounds of
Chatting, whispering, and laughter,
I am the omniscient rasika.
I am
The banyan tree.

US based Ashley is a student of Bharatanatyam. She loves writing poetry and learning dance.  Though she has never been to India, Ashley has penned this poem on the theme of Kalakshetra through the perspective of its famous banyan tree.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Profile - My beloved Vadyar Swamimalai K Rajarathnam Pillai - Sandhya Sree Athmakuri,

Perhaps I was one of his very few Telugu students, and perhaps the only one who had the great fortune of doing gurukulavasam with him.  Yes, I was one of the few privileged disciples who travelled all the way from Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, for a period of 10+ years, stayed with Vadyar and was able to observe him up close.  I would watch with amusement as he would be deeply engrossed in watching any MGR movie on TV, when he would play with Nrithya (singing ‘jannakitta girrakitta” for her), Abhinaya or Rasika and even Aravind…all his favorite grandchildren at that time.  I watched in equal amazement as he took classes from 7 am in the morning through the evening, hour after hour, giving individual and absolute attention to each of his senior students.  I specially mention this because I have often seen many teachers make their senior students take class for the average students and give their personal and privileged attention only to the good students. But not Vadyar… whatever be the capabilities of the student, he took class for them with the same commitment and passion.  Not just classes but the performances of all students, irrespective of their performance caliber were also conducted with the same fervor.  That he customized his choreography to match the physique and artistic potential of each of his students, is a known fact in the world of Bharatanatyam.

Read the article in the site

Sunday 8 July 2012

Interview - Happy to serve society as a musician: Pt Balkrishna Iyer - Vijay Shanker

Hailing from a family of music lovers and practitioners, Pandit Balkrishna Iyer has been a professional tabla maestro for more than three decades, with performances around the globe. Besides solo tabla concerts, Balkrishna Iyer has also accompanied top musicians for various prestigious music festivals. Besides the tussle with renowned vocalist Kishori Amonkar, Balkrishna also talks about his successful musical journey and the establishment of the Iyer Foundation for the welfare of artistes and for the promotion of classical arts.  

Read the interview in the site

Saturday 7 July 2012

Obit/Tribute - Remembering Odissi Guru Harekrushna Behera - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Harekrushna was born in village Buani of Odisha’s Balasore District in 1938. He was trained in art of gotipua dance from the young age of eight by Ramahari Behera. Like his other contemporaries, he too joined Jatra party and toured all over Odisha, performing and learning various aspects of theatre.  From Ramachandra Dey he took lessons in music and other traditional dance styles. He also mastered the Chhanda and Champu and was well versed in music. He joined the Nrutya Sangeet Kalamandir, Balasore, as a guru. It was in 1957 that he joined Kala Vikash Kendra to study Odissi further. At that time, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and Guru Mayadhar Raut were teaching there. Harekrushna took lessons under them also, though all of them had been trained in gotipua dance style.  Seeing his industrious nature and desire to learn more, Babulal Doshi, who established and was in charge of Kala Vikash Kendra, sponsored him for studies at Natya Ballet Theatre in Delhi. 

Read the tribute in the site

Friday 6 July 2012

Janaki Rangarajan’s impressive Bharatanatyam recital - Dr. Sunil Kothari

On 29th June 2012 under the Horizon series, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) presented Janaki Rangarajan, a disciple of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, in an impressive  Bharatanatyam recital. Dividing her time between Washington, USA and Chennai, Janaki has in recent years drawn attention for her Bharatanatyam performances, for her brilliance and choice of items, which keep her audiences engaged in her presentation.

During my visits to Washington, one evening I met her at the theatre where she was to perform two Bharatanatyam numbers in an evening featuring various dancers presenting their choreographic works, including traditional Indian classical dancers. Tall and with attractive personality, she impressed me for her Bharatanatyam which did not include any of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam’s karana based Bharatanrityam, as Padma calls her dance style. It was Bharatanatyam margam and looked attractive within the traditional format. During my next visit also I was able to attend her performance and what struck me was her judicious blending of Padma’s style in a Margam format.